One of the reasons why students might find it difficult to learn science is because of the sheer number of new vocabulary words they must learn to read, write, and spell correctly. This is particularly true for Russian, Turkish, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese students, for example, but also for students who speak Arabic or Hindi, because their native languages are not Romance (i.e., Latin-derived) languages. English, German, and Dutch students have similar difficulties, although less so because their West Germanic languages have historically absorbed and incorporated many Greek and Latin terms.
One way to try and minimize this immense difficulty is to learn the Greek and Latin roots that constitute so much of scientific discourse. By learning many of the most frequently used Greek and Latin prefixes and suffixes, students may eventually find scientific language easier to understand.
There are many online sources of printable lists of Greek and Latin prefixes and suffixes. Below are some links to collections of prefixes and suffixes that are more commonly used in scientific language.
More Science Specific
- Biology Junction’s Scientific Root Words, Prefixes, And Suffixes
- Quia.com’s Latin Prefixes and Suffixes for Science
- University of Pennsylvania’s Useful Biological Prefixes & Suffixes
- Mr. E’s “Need to Know” Latin & Greek
Less Science Specific
- Honig, Diamond, & Gutlohn’s Most Common Prefixes and Suffixes
- Gruber’s Building Vocabulary
- Thomas’ Common Prefixes, Suffixes, and Roots
- Oakton.edu’s List of Greek and Latin roots in English
Last updated: April 2017